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The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
1011 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3508
Dear Speaker Boehner:
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is writing to comment on the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act (H.R. 3433) being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill contains provisions of serious concern to the scientific community, requirements that would undoubtedly weaken the nation’s science and technology activities. The alarming provisions would mandate that federal research grant proposals be published in full on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website and that the identity of peer reviewers at the individual grant level be disclosed, adversely affecting the valued protection of intellectual property and the anonymity vital to the grant review process.
As passed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in November, the GRANT Act contains the following troublesome language in section 7404, which the ASM strongly urges be eliminated before further consideration by the House of Representatives:
Page 10, (B) COPY OF PROPOSAL, APPLICATION, OR PLAN submitted for the awarded grant – this provision would require the posting of a complete copy of a grant proposal on a public website jeopardizing intellectual property.
Page 11, (E) (F) DISCLOSURE OF PEER REVIEWS AND OTHER GRANT REVIEWERS – This provision would allow identification of peer reviewers at the individual grant level in areas of research.
The ASM supports greater transparency and accountability in government programs, but firmly believes that H.R. 3433 as currently written will weaken scientific research in this country. Publishing grant proposals and research project details online would eliminate the long-standing protection of proprietary knowledge and intellectual property rights that have benefited science and technology. There will be unfortunate consequences if the grant review process is harmed, with deleterious effects on scientific discovery and innovation, the economy, and public health.
The ASM agrees with the request being circulated by Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and David Price (D-NC) asking their House colleagues to resolve these threats to science. We join them in asking House leadership to address these concerns directly by eliminating the worrisome provisions from the GRANT Act. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
David C. Hooper, M.D., President, ASM
Roberto Kolter, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board